Pay for play: Texas A&M

Today, ESPN.com takes a look at what a pay-for-play plan in college athletics might look, and the athletic department under the microscope in the Big 12 is Texas A&M. The Aggies are our example in the Big 12, and are a clear indicator of what you might typically find at most major athletic departments.

In short, if you were wondering why the phrase “football is king” is so prevalent, a quick glance at these numbers should make it clear. You’d probably see the balance look a bit different at schools like Duke and Kansas, but you also saw a school in Kansas look like it might be left out of a major conference last summer, despite having one of the greatest programs in all of college hoops.

Football is the big cash cow, and in any pay-for-play scheme, you can see how many athletes collecting paychecks could pile up and put a big dent in every athletic department’s wallet.

Last summer, the Big 12 faced near extinction, or at least decimation, but seeing the impact of football, it’s not hard to see why schools like Texas A&M, Texas and Oklahoma were hot commodities last summer during the realignment shakeup. Texas A&M produced nearly $42 million in total football revenue in the year examined (2009-10 school year) and went just 6-7 during that season.

Oklahoma produced over $58 million during that season and Texas produced just under $94 million. The Longhorns also spent the most, with expenses of over $25 million, nearly $5 million more than any other Big 12 school.

Nebraska, by the way, produced just under $50 million in total revenue during the 2009-10 year.

Conversely, Baylor, Kansas State, Kansas and Iowa State were all under $20 million in total revenue. Here's more on those numbers.

Here’s what Texas A&M’s budget looks like, and where the finances would start if the program decided to start paying its athletes. Includes coach’s salaries, student aid, recruiting and gameday operations.

Total profit: $15,729,711

Student fees: 684.17 for one semester hour, 4,209.26 at 12 semester hours is maximum.

Amount athletics receives from student fees: N/A